Your 2018 New Year’s TECH Resolutions!

Say goodbye to 2017 and make some changes to protect your Technology

As with all New Year’s Resolutions- my advice is not to make them SO insurmountable that you set yourself up for failure. On the flip side, don’t make them so easy that they do nothing for you, or that you feel no sense of accomplishment.

1. ORGANIZE!

That being said, my number one Resolution is to Organize. Now this is an incredibly broad word and in its entirety, is way easier said than done. My point here is just focus on ONE part of your life. Your desk, your bedroom, your kitchen. Likewise, maybe just your EMAIL, your to-do list, your daily routine, etc.

My focus here is related to a conversation I had with a friend last night. They were searching everywhere for their medical card (NOT a Medical marijuana one). I asked them if they use Dropbox. She said “yes, it’s great for all my pictures!” I used to do that too. It is so one dimensional though that I was missing the point. When I came to LA Creative Technologies I found a big EMPTY file cabinet. I asked Josh where all his important documents were- like the one I had at my last business that overflowed with papers and junk and mismatched files?

He said- “they’re all in the cloud”. Assuming that he didn’t just throw them all in a bonfire I asked questions and found that he kept scanned copies of EVERYTHING- contracts, tax returns, legal documents, leases, warranties, etc. etc. in a cloud application like Drop Box. Anywhere we go in the world we simply sign in to that app, search for the folder (or even the name of the document, like “copy of Driver’s license”) and Viola! there it is!

So, guess what? No more frantic searching for documents or ID cards that you need once a year and can never remember the “clever” spot you put them in! Try this and you will NEVER look back! AND you will never look for those documents either!

2. UPDATE your software!

Some of the most damaging Cyber-attacks in 2017 involved Ransomware.  In May, the ransomware known as WannaCry affected more than 200,000 Windows computers in 150 countries. Security experts believe the malware spread through machines by getting people to download it via email.

This is the incredible part: Microsoft had already released a security update that would have prevented the WannaCry malware from infecting machines. But the hacked computers were behind on downloading the updates. This episode was an important reminder that keeping your software up to date is crucial.

3. Read Privacy Policies

Amid Uber’s laundry list of scandals, which included sexual harassment accusations and an undisclosed security breach, there was an important revelation that everyone can learn from. It involved Unroll.me, a free service that unsubscribes you from junk mail.

To gather intelligence about its competition, Uber bought information about its main rival, Lyft, from Unroll.me. How did Uber do that, exactly? Unroll.me scanned the contents of its users’ inboxes and sold anonymized data, information that did not have individuals’ names attached to it — in this case, emailed Lyft receipts — to Uber.

You may be shocked to learn about Unroll.me’s business model. But the truth was always there in the fine print: the company’s privacy policy clearly stated that “we may collect, use, transfer, sell and disclose non-personal information for any purpose” and that data can be used “to build anonymous market research products and services.” Still, people were understandably outraged by the misleading nature of Unroll.me. A company that promised to rid you of spam mail scanned your inbox and sold information about you to other companies, including marketers.

So, make it a habit to read a company’s privacy policy. As boring as it sounds, a bit of reading will go a long way.

4. Delete Unnecessary Apps

The Unroll.me episode also raised awareness of the sheer number of third-party apps that may be leeching off your personal information. There are probably apps and web services you don’t remember downloading or subscribing to, and they could still have access to your data.

THIS year do an audit on your third-party apps. On your smartphone, delete apps that you have not touched in several months. For a clean break, in some cases you will also have to visit the company’s website and request that your account be deleted entirely.

Also check your primary online accounts, like Facebook, Twitter or Google, to see which apps are hooked into them. Chances are you have used those accounts to quickly sign up for a web tool or app. The ones you never use may still be leeching off your personal data, so you should disable them.

On Facebook, go to the settings page and click on the Apps tab to see which apps are connected to the account. On your Google account page, you can find a similar apps list labeled “Connected apps & sites.” And on Twitter, go to the Apps page under “Settings and privacy.”

5. Use a VPN

In April, Congress voted to overturn privacy rules that would have made it more difficult for broadband providers like Comcast and Charter to track and sell information about your browsing history to advertisers. The stronger privacy rules never went into effect, meaning nothing changed. But the privacy repeal underlined the sheer magnitude of data that internet service providers can collect and share about you. Subscribing to a virtual private network, or VPN, is a meaningful safeguard for your online privacy.

When you browse the web, a broadband provider helps route your device’s internet traffic to each destination website. Every device you use has an identifier consisting of a string of numbers, also known as an IP address. When you are on the internet, a service provider can see which devices you use and which sites you visit. You must realize that this information is used extensively in marketing and advertising to YOU among other things.

VPNs help cloak your browsing information from your internet provider. When you use VPN software, your device connects to a VPN provider’s servers. That way, all your web traffic passes through the VPN provider’s internet connection. So, if your internet provider was trying to listen in on your web traffic, all it would see is the VPN server’s IP address connected to the VPN service.

VPNs have their drawbacks. They often slow down internet speeds significantly, and some apps or services don’t work properly when you are connected to a VPN. I also wasn’t able to buy my 5th Groupon in a row during a sale because they found I was using a VPN from a different state (we’ll leave that story for another time…). But everybody can benefit from using a private network, especially in certain situations, like connecting to an open Wi-Fi network at a cafe or an airport.

BONUS Resolution!

For the love of Pete (Or any other person or Deity you choose), get a case and screen protector for your phone!! Just because you got it FREE or only $199 (with an MSRP of $999) after agreeing to pay $30 extra dollars a month, DOES’NT mean that it will be free again when you drop it.

Newer phones are made more and more out of glass and are even more susceptible to damage. For someone who worked in the cell phone industry over 18 years, this author doesn’t leave the store without a case and screen protector in hand (or at least an order placed on Ebay/Amazon for one)

 

I hope these help you to enter 2018 more aware of Internet Technology and how it can and WILL improve your life. People say technology is doing damage in some ways to society, but I feel it’s all in the hands of the users. Literally. Let it IMPROVE your life, not take it over.  I wish you all a Wonderful, Happy and Healthy New Year!

See you in 2018.

 

Some of this information was quoted from New York Times writer Brian X. Chen’s article “5 New Year’s Resolutions to protect your Technology”

 

Improving Community Relations with IT  

IT Services Jewish SchoolsIn this case study, I will demonstrate how LA Creative Technologies helped a local non-profit streamline & upgrade its campus-wide systems while adhering to the organization’s budgetary requirements.

The Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center (SIJCC) in Los Angeles is a thriving campus of over 17,000 square feet. It provides cultural events and diverse programming for adults, children and families in addition to operating a successful preschool.

In the last few years, the SIJCC has expanded its staff to more than 80 employees, and in the process, has faced mounting pressures to meet its changing technology needs. Initially, they engaged a different IT company, and that experience resulted in a less-than-stellar outcome. The other company had them using sub-par equipment and poorly chosen cloud services. During this time, the SIJCC felt their needs were not being met: the IT company was unresponsive, and they felt that their internal staff could produce the same results without paying for outside expertise.

After hearing about LA Creative Technologies through Josh Weiss’ work with the Progressive Jewish Alliance, Executive Director Ayana Morse contacted Josh for a consultation. The organization engaged LACT to provide both a short- and long-term plan to upgrading their IT systems.

The plan implemented not only day-to-day maintenance, but also provided the SIJCC with a cost-effective strategy for networking the entire campus, adding in Wi-Fi and Virtual Networks (VLANs) to help alleviate their technology challenges.

This vision, created by LA Creative Technologies, provided for near-term solutions and future improvements with more efficient, productive technologies than the changes the previous IT company had implemented.

As Ms. Morse pointed out early in her discussions with LA Creative, as a non-profit organization, the SIJCC must make decisions based on a tight budget with little wiggle room remaining to correct errors. She has repeatedly complimented LA Creative on its initiatives that prioritize future installations to ensure the best solutions occur without creating unnecessary expenditures. Their experience with the last IT company resulted in acquisitions of computers and other equipment that fell short in meeting the organization’s needs, thereby resulting in the necessity for additional equipment replacement within a year. As a non-profit that is expanding to meet the community’s needs, the SIJCC has no room for error in its expenditures.

Unfortunately, the SLJCC has had to absorb some of the costs of correcting the errors of the previous IT company. However, Ms. Morse was highly complimentary in expressing praise at the manner in which LA Creative assisted with those challenges by focusing on the most critical elements of the new strategy and making the necessary improvements, well within budget.

Now the SLJCC is continuing to expand. Currently, they are rehabbing a large building, and LA Creative Technologies is working with them to make that space ready for community and event programming. They are implementing VLANs and backend security with an eye toward even more growth over the next few years.

At LA Creative Technologies, we collaborate with our clients to ensure their unique IT needs are met efficiently and quickly. We strategize on plans for growth, and we fulfill your needs for a virtual CIO or vCIO. When you hire us as your vCIO, you add a technology expert to your team who can help you grow and gain an edge against the competition. We do this by collaborating with you on an IT strategy and budget in line with your objectives and managing the implementation of the technology solutions. In addition, we help you manage your customer relations, or, as in the case of the SLJCC, community outreach and event production requirements. We design integrated systems to cost effectively manage data and your digital communications for marketing and sales.

No matter what type of organization you have, LA Creative Technologies can help you with your IT needs.

The Agency Trusts LA Creative Technologies To Guide Their IT Strategy

mauricio umansky

Perhaps you’ve heard of or seen The Agency—a real estate company that is more than just a real estate company. Their founder, Mauricio Umansky, was recently recognized as the third top producing real estate agent in the entire United States. What made this company grow to a business that has closed more than $4.8 billion in residential sales and is more than a real estate business, but is a lifestyle business too? They hired the right people and listened to what those people had to say. That is especially true when it comes to technology.

Josh Weiss is founder & owner of LA Creative Technologies and an I.T. & CIO consultant for high end real estate firms across Los Angeles. When companies are started, they often go for affordable or even cheap technology; they just look for “good enough” to get by. Josh has helped these companies upgrade that old, barely acceptable technology and cerate reliable tech systems that allow business to grow & expand without growing pains.

David, the current IT Director at the Agency says that he relies on Josh when The Agency faces unexpected issues. “When we have networking difficulties, when we’ve had trouble connecting to the wi-fi, or when speeds are slow or phones keep crashing, we call on Josh and he helps us out.”

When Josh first started working with The Agency, they were basically a small crew in a messy office with technology that was hardly allowing them to get by. With advice from Josh, and partly as a result of his efforts, they have become one of the fastest growing real estate agencies in the world. Thanks to Josh, they can do that without being distracted by tech headaches.

When The Agency has an issue above and beyond the normal Internal I.T. issues, Josh is there to help. For example, when The Agency’s old VOIP phone system had become inadequate, Josh led the search for and seamless implementation of a modern Unified Communications voice solution.

When a company like the Agency – a company that has done more than $4 billion in sales — has technology problems, it is very important that the people they call to fix those problems are available and able to get them back on track. For The Agency, and for several other businesses in the Los Angeles area, L.A. Creative Technologies is the team they rely on.

David, the IT Director at the Agency stated, “We call on L.A. Creative when we need have an issue outside of our expertise, and every time we [ upgrade ] networks and things like that – changes which are important to keep the office running smoothly – L.A. Creative is our go to. They are like an extension to our team on a contract basis.” David added, “I don’t think there’s ever been a problem they haven’t been able to fix for us; and of course they are always receptive and easy to get hold of.”

If you have need for Virtual CIO technology consulting or Managed I.T. Services, contact Josh Weiss at LA Creative Technologies and he will guide you in choosing & implementing the best solution for your situation. They will help solve problems you might be having now, and give you the advice you’ll need to keep future growth-related issues — more people, more technology usage, evolving business needs — from slowing you down.

Client Success Story: KUSP 89.9 FM

KUSP“Josh was a patient and effective teacher and many, many KUSP producers were grateful for his help and guidance. While he worked for us, Josh always ensured our operations continued to run smoothly and without disruption. He proved to be innovative when given a technical challenge and limited tools to work with, and always delivered solid results.” – Terry Green, Former General Manager, KUSP 89.9 FM

KUSP is a Public Radio Station on the Central Coast of California. As Training and Production Coordinator, LA Creative Technologies founder Josh Weiss had the opportunity to fuse his loves of technology, media & music in helping to run the station and influence its digital strategy. During this time, he was in charge of developing new systems for digital production, training volunteers, and engineering radio programs.

Services Performed:

  • Trained paid staff and volunteer programmers in the use of the DADPro32 system; trained producers in audio editing with Adobe Audition and Saw32. (Software Training and Support)
  • Worked with the New Media Department to develop Podcasts and participiate in the creation of digital strategy/
  • Maintained and installed station equipment and researched equipment purchases
  • Station audio network computer maintenance; network, telco and audio wiring (Network Design and Management)
  • Engineered and edited digital recording sessions

Client Success Story: Partners in Solidarity

What Our Client Says:

“Josh always has a positive attitude, the ability to solve logistical problems on the spot, and the initiative to stay focused on achieving project goals. To this day, we consider him a valuable member of our team. {company} continues to provide immeasurable value to our operations; updating our website, promoting the project to various NGO’s, and problem-solving software and other technological challenges. Working with {company} has maximized our ROI and improved our capabilities.”  – Matthew Rutman. Director, Partners in Solidarity 

Background:

Partners in Solidarity is an international program based in the highland department of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Computers are collected, refurbished, and loaded with Spanish and Mayan language software and education programs creating community computer labs.

Each lab is “owned” by the community and each community is trained in maintenance and security to protect and care for the computers.

Challenge:

Partners in Solidarity trains groups of individuals in managing complex labs, many of whom have had little to no technological experience. It was important to create solid manuals and secure systems that could be referred to and utilized for years to come.

Services Performed:

  •       Training local teachers in basic computer skills and maintenance
  •       Researching and writing an Internet pilot program
  •       Re-designing project website
  •       Visiting rural schools and setting up computer labs
  •       Networking with local and international technological NGOs to promote the project.